Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Making ear wires for jewellery from Elaine of Chatelaine Jewellery.

Elaine from Chatelaine Jewellery has written a fabulous tutorial on how to make your own ear wires for jewellery.
Thank you for sharing Elaine.

Wirework Tutorial
How to make Basic Earwires

In this tutorial I assume you know how to turn a loop in wire!  I also make earwires at the same time this helps with making them exactly alike!

So here we go then ~~~

Equipment and Materials you will need:


Half Hard Sterling Silver Wire 0.8mm
Wire Cutters
Round Nose Pliers

Mandrel - You can use a Ring Mandrel or Multi Tool but
I have used a piece of steel piping, you can also use a pen barrel (make sure it is completely round - no flat edges to it)
Silver cleaning cloth


You also need for forging the wire:


Hammer ~ a Chasing hammer is preferable but a ball pein hammer will surfice (make sure it has a nice smooth head any dents etc. will mark the wire)
Anvil or steel block

Needle file

1.  Take your wire and unravel enough to use approx 8" then to stretch/straighten the wire, run it through your thumb and forefinger a few times (this also helps to harden the wire!)


NB: You don't need to straighten the wire completely this just helps with measuring the amount your require, as the curve already in the wire can be helpful in the process of making the earwires.

Cut 2 x 4" pieces of wire.


2.  Now to make a turned loop in each wire, grasp the wire with the round nosed pliers, making sure it is right at the very tip of the wire.


Turn a loop around the blade of the pliers.


NB: If you left the natural curve of the wire make sure you turn the loop in the opposite direction to the curve (see below).


Repeat to make a loop in the other wire.

3.  Take the mandrel (piece of pipe) and place the earwire over it, making sure the loop is facing out (perpendicular to the mandrel)


Curve the ear wire around the mandrel, at this point you could do both earwires at the same time, this helps to make them to near 'exactly' the same!


Bend them around the mandrel so the ends nearly touch the loops.  They will spring back and open again.


4.  Still holding the earwires together, grasp them approx ¼" from the end with your round nose pliers, bend the wires back slightly to give them a straight end.

It is your choice how far you want to bend them.


NB: I usually tweak the earwires a little now so that they both look completely even, until I am happy with them.


5.  Trim the ends so they are equal in length, make sure that both the earwires are held in the same position


They should look something like this!!


6. Now the ends need to be filed with the needle file to remove all the rough edges.


First flatten off the end, and then work around the edges, always pulling the file down across the wire with fairly small sweeps.


NB: NEVER file backwards and forwards across the wire ONLY downward sweeps!!


Repeat for the other earwire.


Depending on what, the loop end of the earwire, seems like you may want to file these too. Either before you make the loop or you could twist the loop out slightly so you can get the file in to smooth the ends, don't forget to straighten again afterwards! Or do this before turning your loop in the initial first step.


7. Now to help strengthen the earwires you need to do a little forging of the front part of the wires.  Place the earwire onto the anvil or steel block


With the chasing hammer now lightly hammer only the front part of the earwire, making sure not to hammer the loop,


turn the earwire over and do the same to the other side.


Repeat for the other earwire.


NB:  The forging process can distort the earwires sometimes so they will need a little tweaking to help straighten them again.


8.  Well, all that is needed now is to clean the earwires to give them a lovely shine and remove any dust particles.  I generally use a silver cleaning cloth as they are quite small but if you have a tumbler this can help strengthen them or you can use a Dremel like power tool too (being very careful).


There now your very first pair of earwires!!! All made by your own fair hand!!
Elaine is running a Wirework for Beginners Workshop on November 2nd 2013 for more details visit her Facebook page
 You can find out more about Elaine and see more of her work in her Etsy shop where you will also find a selection of handmade lampwork glass beads. 
You can also follow her fabulous blog Wire and Fire

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